[R53] Legislative Focus: Jobs, Education and Fiscal Integrity (1/14/2013)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Start Date: 1/14/2013 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 1/14/2013 End Time: 11:59 PM

The 2013 legislative session is underway, and our agenda is taking shape as we focus on job creation, education and fiscal responsibility. These are the pillars to success for Indiana that will strengthen our state’s economic outlook.

Indiana prides itself on being a taxpayer-friendly, pro-business state and was recently ranked first in the Midwest as the best place to do business in the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2012. We have focused on cultivating a climate for job creation, and it is paying off as more businesses look to expand and locate in Indiana. The job growth rate in Indiana has significantly outpaced the national rate of growth - nearly double - for the past three years. By bridging the skills gap and providing an education system tailored to student growth, we will continue on this path of success.

With the record setting job growth we have seen lately, we must ensure that there will be qualified Hoosiers ready to fill those jobs. A recent study indicated that 67 percent of manufacturing companies in the state are experiencing a shortage of available, qualified workers. This shortage is expected to not only continue, but worsen with time. 

Improving career and technical education in high schools can help alleviate this shortage. By 2018, it is estimated that 55 percent of Indiana’s jobs will require some postsecondary education, but only 33 percent of our current working age Hoosiers have an associate’s degree or higher. We will focus on increasing and supporting opportunities for high school students to earn college credit while strengthening partnerships between industries and higher education institutions.

Providing Hoosier students with a strong educational foundation is the key to their future success. In Indiana, 61 percent of children (ages 3-4) are not enrolled in a preschool program. Only six states have a higher percentage of children not attending a preschool. It is imperative that Hoosier children get off to the best academic start by learning the skills to succeed at an early age. I will focus on expanding educational opportunities for all Hoosier families, particularly those in rural areas. 

Last but not least, I am focused on ensuring financial stability for future generations by crafting a balanced budget. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee and Chairman of the Budget Subcommittee, I understand the importance of passing a balanced budget and the impact it has on Indiana’s economy. Indiana is one of just nine states with a triple-A credit rating from all three credit agencies; an added incentive to the pro-business tools currently in place. 

As we craft our state budget this year, we will continue to eliminate wasteful government spending and make strategic investments and restorations to our cities and towns. By doing so, we will keep Indiana ahead of the curve and moving forward.

Last week, the Ways and Means Committee heard testimony and listened to presentations from seven state universities as well as the Commission for Higher Education. Gov. Pence will present his budget this week with more state agencies continuing to meet with Ways and Means throughout session. As we hear from these different groups, organizations, universities and agencies, I will focus on keeping Indiana on the right track by ensuring the budget is within our state’s means.

If you have not already done so, I invite you to fill out my 2013 legislative survey online at www.in.gov/h53. As your state representative, it is important for me to hear your views and concerns on issues facing our state. Feel free to contact me by phone at 317-232-9619 or by email at h53@in.gov.